Black and white are the primary colors artist Kara Walker uses. Shadow and light. Negative and positive space. Her tableaux are made of black paper, and they are silhouetted against a gallery’s white walls The archetypical imagery she uses–sordid scenes from slavery. The wild-haired pickaninny, the scheming Southern Belle, the oblivious Good Master, the slave’s body in chains… Referents are classic children’s books, the mythology of the Antebellum South, and black memorabilia. It’s work that is never kitsch or twee; it’s dangerous and graceful at the same time.

Kara Walker 1

Walker’s work dismantles the Master’s House with the master’s tool, to borrow a quote from Audre Lorde.